The site

Located in the Northern Freiberg mining district, the ore canal, its related mines Churprinz August Friedrich Erbstolln and Alte Hoffnung Gottes Erbstolln, and the Halsbrücke smelting place are lined from south to north between the former mining settlements of Halsbrücke and Kleinvoigtsberg along the Mulde River. The section of the ore canal of the Churprinz Friedrich August Erbstolln mine runs along the right bank of the Freiberger Mulde River, south-west of the tub boat lift. The Halsbrücke smelter is located at Halsbrücke in the Freiberger Mulde valley, not far from the mining sites on the Halsbrücke Spat. It is a component of the Freiberg Mining Landscape, to which it is connected by the Mulde River to the Freiberg central mining district and the Gersdorf mining landscape to the north.

The structures of the ensemble in all the associated mines display the whole process of extraction, ore transportation and the processing of silver ore from the 18th to the 20th century in the Freiberg northern mining district. Partly built over today, both mines were originally connected to the ore canal which was been used to transport the ore to the Halsbrücke smelter.

The ore canal, which is mostly nowadays silted, is still visible carving its way through the landscape. The canal is connected to the Mulde River that is running parallel by the remains of the boat lifts. The entire canal system covered 11 kilometres. To improve the transport of ore from the mines to the smelter, a shipping canal was constructed in 1788/89 (“Churprinzer Canal”) and enlarged in 1790/92 (“Christbescherunger Canal”). The canal was fitted with two ore-boat lifts, which are among the oldest boat lifts in the world. Ore ceased to be transported by barge in 1868, when the canal water started being used to supply a turbine mine water pumping system (“Kunstgezeug”) during the construction of the Rothschönberger Stolln (drainage gallery) at Lichtloch VII (air shaft).

Another element which is highly relevant to the system in the mine is the Lichtloch. A Lichtloch, also known as a light shaft, is a narrow channel that is sunk down to a deeper mine structure in order to weather the mine system. The term light hole does not, as one might assume, relate to the hole being an access for light, but rather that it provides the ventilation to the mine in order for air to transit and allow for fires to be lit. In addition, various light holes were also used for water drainage and as accesses in case of collapse. Light holes that were no longer used for mining operations were usually covered with a plate. Some or all of the light holes were also filled up with debris. After the end of mining, the open light holes in some mining areas were equipped with pumps in order to pump out the pit water that accumulated in the underground cavities. The pumped water was then used for domestic water supply.

The VII. Lichtloch, the location of this year’s project, is a preserved example of the distinct uses applied to this structural element. It remains in a state of disrepair and its supportive arches are in need of restoration.

 

The project

The inventive techniques for processing rocks and extracting ore in this region attest to the determination and ingenuity of humankind in adapting to overcome their limitations through technological advancement. These processes at the time of their first use were a height of mining technology, bringing progress and innovations which would reverberate throughout the world. The participants in the project will have the opportunity to interact with the tools that fashioned this era of development. Through their practical work and the careful guidance of the hosting specialists, the participants will expand their understanding of mining heritage and learn how these people crafted the mechanisms that allowed them to crush massive rocks and forge their futures.

As a part of this system of structures related to the mining activities we find the Lichtloch, which in old mines provided a way of ventilation to the interior of the structure. The task will be to construct supporting structures in order to allow for the next step which will be to reconstruct the supportive arches to the remnants of the Lichtloch’s construction. The works will be led by a master of carpentry who has additional education as “Restorer in Handicraft”, through his practical guidance the participants will be provided with a glimpse into the technologies of this age.

Additionally, the second task will revolve around the remains of the boat lifting system some 300 meters away from the first working site. This experimental system was in use on the Churprinz mining canal and lifted boats seven meters using a moveable hoist. The lift, which is a superb example of technical innovation of its time, operated between 1758 and 1868 and it is one of the oldest of such structures in the world. Since it lays now partly filled up by debris and silt, the participants will be tasked with cleaning the area. The bulk of the restoration work will be to repair the damaged wall, filling up with mortar the gaps and stabilizing the structure.

 

The project will take place from July 20th, to August 1st, 2020 and is organised by European Heritage Volunteers, in cooperation with the Saxon World Heritage Coordination, the Association for the Mining Region Erzgebirge/Ore Mountains, the World Heritage Association for the Ore MountainMining Region, and the VII. Lichtloch Association.